After the ice and snow have thawed and the weather’s fully transitioned into the warm days of spring, eating a meal outside or cracking open the windows can be a great way to really bask in the fresh air. Unfortunately, you don’t always get to enjoy that summer air without inviting some uninvited guests: flies.

One New Orleans café knew this problem all too well. Flies were constantly badgering outdoor patrons, yet trying to shoo them away or swat them all was as challenging as herding cats. Luckily, one waiter put a far-fetched Internet rumor on fly prevention to the test, and strangest of all, he—along with countless others around the planet—found out that it might actually work!

In New Orleans, Louisiana, a little eatery called the Gott Gourmet Café was known for offering hungry customers everything from salads and mac ‘n cheese to po’boys and hot dogs. Unfortunately for outdoor diners, pesky flies seemed to want to join their every meal.

Cafe waiter and comedian Shan “Aladdin” Ahmad took note of all of these flies pestering his patrons. To fight back against the tyrannical buzzers, he employed a trick most people would think was little more than an old wives’ tale…

Shan Aladdin Ahmad / Facebook

Shan constructed a simple device meant to turn the whole restaurant into a no-fly zone. He gathered plastic sandwich bags, water from the faucet, a drop of bleach, and a handful of pennies. Just what was he making?

Shan first filled the plastic baggy with about two-and-a-half cups of water (for good measure, he doubled-up on baggies). From there, he added a little drop of bleach—in a pinch, salt and a squirt of lime juice could’ve worked, too.

1BettyBill / YouTube

With his bag in hand, he added a single penny to the bleach water. Others who tried this technique opted for up to six pennies, but as far as Shan was concerned, anything more than a few copper Lincolns was a waste of coin.

1BettyBill / YouTube

After that, keeping flies away was as simple as hanging the bags above outdoor tables. “I’ve seen a few flies” since hanging up the bags, Shan told “But compared to last year it’s almost 100 percent effective.” So, how did this wacky contraption work?

According to Shan, the water-penny combination caused sunlight to refract in a way that made flies uncomfortable. Somewhat understandably, the logic behind this no-fly device raised a few eyebrows.

Jay Nix, another New Orleans restaurant owner, tried it out and saw results similar to Shan’s. However, Jay theorized that the refraction of the sun from the bag tricked flies into thinking there were hundreds of other pests in the area.

Best of New Orleans

He also took few other guesses as to why the bag trick worked so well: Maybe a fly’s reflection looked huge in the bag and scared it away, he supposed. Or maybe the device resembled a wasp’s nest and that scared them away?

Ultimately, though? “We think it works, because we want it to work,” Jay—who first saw the contraption hanging at a restaurant called LuLu’s in Alabama—said. Simply put, the bags annoyed flies in “some kind of way.” And that was good enough.

Still, others remained skeptical. Bug expert Zack Lemann—who said he saw the device fail miserably at a barbecue—pointed out that a lot of unknown factors could be affecting the seasonal fly. Just because flies were absent doesn’t mean it was the bag’s doing…

GoNOLA / YouTube

As far-fetched as the fly solution seemed, countless anecdotal examples emerged from all over about restaurant owners repelling flies with the water-penny bag. Shan himself first saw the device outside a Chinese food restaurant in New York City.

And while every penny-bag fanatic would likely offer up totally different reasons as to why or how the devices worked, their answers likely all had something in common: they just did.

The Daily Muse

Say, though, you were someone who wanted to rid your house or restaurant or property of flies without putting your hopes on something so unscientifically sound. Plenty of methods for fly extermination were available…

One YouTuber, for instance, endured a garden completely terrorized by flies. The pesky bugs made it impossible for her to actually enjoy any time she spent in the garden she worked hard to maintain. So she concocted a little defense that fit in a mason jar…

James & Lea D – Philia Ministries / YouTube

To start, she filled a third of the jar with witch hazel, a third with white vinegar, and a third with water. From there, she looked up what essential oils flies couldn’t stand the smell of—citronella, eucalyptus—and added that to the jar. After that? There wasn’t a fly in sight!

James & Lea D – Philia Ministries / YouTube

Other natural fly eradication methods have become mainstays in households over the years. Those plagued with summertime flies found, for instance, that a lavender oil-soaked sponge placed wherever flies were hanging out could keep the little buggers at bay.

Meanwhile, studies showed fruit flies were attracted to the smell of anything that ferments. Using that fact to their advantage, some of those overwhelmed with fruit flies started setting up apple cider vinegar traps!

The Scientist

This one works by heating up a bit of apple cider vinegar and pouring it into either a jar with a funnel or fly-sized holes poked into the lid. When the flies make their way into the jar to investigate that tasty vinegar, boom! They get trapped.

You’d think that by now, we’d have found a better method for dealing with flies. Yet people like Shan Ahmad still had to fill bags with water and pennies for a chance at sweet relief! Just watch him make his strange contraption…

There’s no question that these are simple and brilliant fly traps! Get ready to enjoy a calm and stress-free summer season without a fly in sight.

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